HAMILTON, ON – St. Joseph’s Healthcare is attempting to stifle the right of hospital staff to advocate for public disclosure when it comes to spending choices and service cuts, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) 786 charged today.
The hospital has filed a sternly-worded grievance against CUPE 786 that suggests that what the hospital spends on services is confidential. A move the union says is “uncalled for, and extremely disconcerting.”
The hospital alleges that CUPE 786 breached confidentiality by holding a media conference and divulging that St. Joe’s is spending money on taxi cabs while under-utilizing the in-house transport shuttle. The grievance further suggests that making public how much the hospital spends on outside transport is counter to St. Joe’s “organizational values.”
“We would argue that the public – in this case, the people of Hamilton specifically – have a right to know how the hospital chooses to spend public funding. Based on the numbers we’ve seen, it’s not credible for St. Joe’s to suggest that cutting the in-house service and contracting out transport will cost less. The hospital should divulge costings and the figures must hold up to public scrutiny,” says Michael Hurley president of CUPE’s Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU).
At the April 16 media conference, CUPE 786 president Domenic DiPasquale urged the hospital to stop using cabs and a fee-for-service operation for patient transport and work collaboratively with CUPE to expand the cost-effective, in-hospital patient shuttle service. “We are open to dialogue on this. But we won’t be censored by a questionable contract grievance,” says DiPasquale.
With yet another year of no funding increases for hospitals by the provincial government, St. Joseph’s will “regrettably opt for more service cuts and more outsourcing. We believe that cuts and money spent outsourcing warrant closer public review. Hospitals must make the financial and service comparisons readily available,” says Hurley.
St. Joe’s grievance also alleges that CUPE’s public comments amount to defamation and contradict the hospital’s mission and vision.
CUPE 786’s formal response to the grievance is that “it does not appear to us that the facts alleged in the hospital grievance, constitute a breach of any of the provisions of the collective agreement.”
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